Sunday, August 6, 2006

Gary Numan would be proud

Owen Wilson carNormally, films with more than one scriptwriter on the credits make me incredibly wary. Hollywood's concept of plotting is almost insultingly simple, so if a story needs constant rewrites, something has got to be wrong.

Last night, however, I left the cosy confines of Discopop Towers to see Pixar's Cars - which was crafted by six (count'em!) wordsmiths - and it was thoroughly enjoyable.

So much for my theory, then.

Storytelling has long been Pixar's key strength. Their main characters - Woody in Toy Story, or Flik in A Bug's Life - always have a strong story arc. True, it's often the same arc (they each overcome a minor character flaw when they're plunged into a desparate situation) but why change a winning formula?

Cars has the same idea - stubborn, egomaniacal racing car Lightning McQueen (Owen Wilson) becomes less stubborn and egomaniacal when he gets lost in a backwater town on Route 66.

Director, and Pixar head honcho, John Lasseter has talked of this being a "pet project" for him - and that does come across in the opening act. It's a little too enamoured with the shiny, speedy cars, and comes close to losing its focus on the characters.

another car, except it's really a truckOnce McQueen gets lost in the desert, however, the film finds its way. The supporting cast are kooky and loveable - if a little one-dimensional - and the animation is as stunning as ever. Several shots are practically photorealistic. I'd swear some of the racing sequences were filmed for real, if only the cars didn't have eyes and lips.

My one grumble is the piss-poor Randy Newman song that pops up about halfway through.

His gut-churningly mawkish track, something about how great small town life is when you really think about it, is like having warm treacle poured over you. It's so clich├ęd that several people in the cinema broke into a chorus of Team America's "Pearl Harbour Sucked" over the top of it (okay, so that was me and mrsdiscopop, but we're several people, aren't we?).

That aside, Cars is a great film. More Monsters Inc rather than Finding Nemo, perhaps, but it knocks the socks of Pirates of the Caribbean and Superman Returns.

Oh, and you don't even need to leave your home to see it. Some loon has put it up on the internets for everyone to see. Here you go:

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